CHEAP AND YUMMY BROWNIE RECIPE!
6 TBSP cocoa, 1/4 C butter, 1 C sugar, 1/2 tsp vanilla, 1/3 C flour, 2 eggs, Cook 350 - 25 mins.

2/13/10

WHAT DO CATHOLICS BELIEVE?

It is no secret that most Protestants consider Catholics to be "the other" Christians. By the same token, most Catholics consider Protestants to be "the other" Christians. The interesting part of this dynamic, to me, is that most of us believe that "the others" are probably going to be accepted by Christ. Most of us believe...or at least, strongly hope, that we all will probably see each other in Heaven. We all love each other and respect each other, yet are inherently terrified to talk with each other about what "the others" believe.

We just don't understand each other very well at all. Sadly, ignorance often creates deep division. The fear of division inherently hinders people of both faiths from having an intelligent, Unheated discussion about their religion. I've been fortunate enough, however, to have friends who will indulge my questions, and not only indulge me, but openly discuss their faith without animosity.


When all is said and done, we all have our own beliefs, understand them and live with them...openly...without animosity or "poo pooing" the other persons stance on any given religious issue. During these discussions every one of us have questioned our own beliefs about certain details of our faith, found answers and become stronger in our walk with Christ. It's not as much about "we're right, you're wrong" as it is about, "Why do you believe this, why do I believe THAT?"

I suppose it is my need for answers that drives these discussions....my friends accept this attribute of mine all the while knowing that my "findings" will eventually find their way to this public forum to be dissected and discussed. Thus, here is installment number three of...

"What I have come to understand from...'the other side.'"



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1. PRAYER:

Catholic church services are very, very (yes I used the word "very" twice) different from Protestant church services. Keep in mind that most Protestants lump Lutherans in with Catholics. We consider Lutherans to be "Catholic-Lite" so to speak. :o)

That being said, the normal worship service for a Catholic is made up of small prayers, preaching, Bible reading and the Eucharist. (Communion) I had the pleasure of attending a Mass recently because I was named "Godmother" (Sponsor) to my close friends' newborn baby girl. (Hi Elizabeth) During the church service (mass) I witnessed a lot of "chanting" (praying) by the congregation. What in the world is up with all the chanting back and forth during service? Don't they know that we don't talk in church?! :o)

My question to Heather (Elizabeth's mom) was, Why does everyone say things back and forth to the Pastor (Priest) during service? (My protestant friends know what my "real" question was...right? :o) My real question was..."Why do Catholics practice "vain repetition." )


"Vain Repetition" is spoken about in Matthew 6: 7-15 "And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. 9"This, then, is how you should pray: "Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. 10Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. 11Give us this day our daily bread. 12And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. 13And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen."

Catholic Interpretation:

In keeping with the example given of the Lord's Prayer, Catholics keep their prayers short and to the point....like the lord's prayer. They believe they are doing what the scripture said to do by saying prayers meant for specific things...such as the Lord's Prayer that we are supposed to say. Essentially, "God knows what we need before we ask" so why go on and on and on....(like in protestant churches when people pray for 30 minutes or an hour or two hours..."using many words like babbling Pagans.") They believe God asked us to pray diligently, mean what we say and don't say words in vain. Cutting to the chase: They believe that Protestants may be the ones using "vain repetition" because they pray a long time, saying the same things essentially each time but in a different way...making their words "too many."

Protestant Interpretation:

Protestants don't want to repeat the same prayers over and over because they think that's the "vain repetition" that God was talking about. They are concerned that saying prewritten prayers over and over will make the prayers become "repetitive" thus "vain" thus not authentic. Even though God knows what we need before we pray for it, Protestants often need a "feeling" to be assured that God is working in their lives so they will continue to pray for a long time until they "feel" like God has heard them. That "feeling" is often thought to be the Holy Spirit. Some protestants believe we have to pray in church until the Holy Spirit has "spoken" to our heart...thus we pray and sing until that emotion is felt.

Both religions are working hard to please God, but doing so with very different interpretations of the scriptures.

2. Mary "Worshiping"

Protestants greatly ignore Mary because they are afraid they will offend Jesus by honoring her. They don't see a need to think about her, any more than they feel the need to think about Joseph, the Wise Men, Moses or any other person of the Bible. This is largely due to their belief that dead people are in the grave until Jesus comes back. Many Protestants believe that only God can "see" us down here on earth and hear us. It never, ever crosses a Protestants mind to talk with a Chrsitian who has already passed away, let alone ask them to pray for us, like we do with our friends here on earth. To a protestant, this is proposterous!

Side Note: The knowledge that there must be people in Heaven with God escaped me for many years. In my mind all the people who have died are waiting for God to come back so they can go up to Heaven for Judgment Day. I didn't think people went to Heaven until Judgment day. Now, I have to wonder if Judgment day is more than one day...maybe we all have our own judgment day? I wonder this because, the theif on the cross was with Christ "that day" in Paradise, Enoch and Elijah were whisked away to Heaven...so there are people up there. The next question: If people are up there, does God give them the ability to continue to be part of the Christian community?
Can they hear us and pray for us like when they were living on earth? Are they like our friends down here? Can they still pray for us as our brothers and sisters in Christ? so...there's that to chew on.

Catholics want to adore Mary and give her a place of honor in their lives because they are afraid they will offend Jesus if they don't acknowledge His Mother. They know that we are to honor our mother and father in Christ so, if Jesus was fully God and He was fully man on this earth also...making him our God AND our brother "in Christ"...we should Honor Our Mother in Christ. If she were standing in front of us, they reason, we would have a thousand questions about her life with Christ. If she were standing with Jesus, she would worship Him with us, but He may say, "meet my mother" also. She IS Jesus' Mother chosen by God. She conceived him from the Holy Spirit, she was THERE when Jesus was born, she raised Him and she watched Him die. She was at the foot of the cross agonizing. This is why they call her the Greatest Saint...cause she is. A Catholic can't comprehend NOT honoring her. The issue for Protestants is that we don't ever, ever talk to anyone but Jesus. We see any chatter between ourselves and someone in Heaven as worship. Catholics, however, talk with their brothers and sisters in Christ in Heaven all the time. To them, there is a Huge difference between honor and worship. They worship Christ. They Honor Mary.

Side Note: Some sects of the world do put Mary in a position of worship, but this is NOT what the Catholic church teaches. As with any religion, you will find people who go a bit "off-track" from the actual teaching of their religion. There is even a sect of Catholics who want the church to change their teaching so Mary can also forgive sins...but that is NOT what the church teaches and has been denied by council after council. Mary Worship is NOT something that is in the Catholic doctrine....though she is highly looked up to for her unique relationship with Christ.

3. ARE YOU SAVED?:

One of the first things I asked my friend Heather when we began our religion talks was...Are you saved? She said...I have hope that I am. I didn't understand that at all...AT. ALL. I said, "Well I am." She sort of squinted like she got a small jolt of electricity and goose pimples. Here's the deal...

Catholics have an issue with proclaiming someone "saved." They will rarely say that they are saved. A Catholic will usually say they have "hope in their Salvation." This just absolutely makes no sense to a Protestant. Most Protestants quote Acts 16:31 as their rock when proclaiming Salvation. Acts 16:31 "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou SHALL be saved." (not "might" or "hope to be" but SHALL)

The funky thing is that both Catholics and Protestants believe this. The difference is that Catholics acknowledge that even Satan "believes" in Christ Jesus. They understand this passage to use "believe" as a verb of sorts. A Catholic interpretation of this verse would say that it means that we must "have a relationship with Christ" and you shall be saved from Hell. HOWEVER...

Catholics have a very hard time with the idea that we are going to die, waltz up to Jesus in Heaven and say..."Hi there, let me in. You said I'm saved if I believe in you (and live for you) so here I am. I'm Saved." They believe that we are assuming MUCH when proclaiming that we are "saved..for sure" because Jesus says we will ALL be judged. Until we are judged, Catholics believe that we better say we "have hope" and strive to have a relationship with Christ so that when we are judged...JESUS will proclaim us to be Saved.

Catholics acknowledge that Jesus told people, who had gotten "saved" to "go and sin no more" thus leaving Salvation as something that must be "kept," "held to" and forever something to "strive for" while we live on this earth.

Protestants hold a slightly different view in that they hold the word "believe" to be the vessel through which Grace is distributed. Meaning, in the hour that a person truly believes in Christ and then decides to live for Him, they repent and are then "saved." Protestants also believe we have to have a relationship with Christ yet also believe that as soon as we repent that we can proclaim ourselves to be saved....all the while it is well understood that Jesus has the last say on judgment day.

To Sum Up:

Protestants proclaim that they are saved, with the understanding that we must continually live for Jesus to "keep" salvation.

Catholics believe they are saved, but don't have the "nerve" to announce it before Jesus does. :o)


SIDE-NOTE:

While I pondered this interesting dynamic, I couldn't help but wonder why Protestants will quote "Shall be saved!" loud and clear..because "Jesus said it!" but they absolutely refuse to quote, Matt: 16:19 "19I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven."

Why is that one so hard to believe? Jesus will give men the ability to heal people through faith healing but He won't give men permission to announce that a person's sins are forgiven? It's not like the Priest thinks "he himself" is forgiving sins. Even the Priest knows that Jesus is the one who is forgiving the sins...he is, however, quoting the words Jesus told Him to quote because He believes it...but I addressed this issue in my previous post...so I'll stop there.

4. TRADITION:

Most Protestants believe in "Bible Only" religion. They have found Jesus through reading His word and believe whole-heartedly that because they have found Peace and Salvation through the Holy Bible that there is no reason to uphold any religious tradition that may have been passed down through the ages. Most protestants don't look into traditions of our forefathers, don't acknowledge that there were different ways of worshiping before the Protestant Reformation/Rebellion and frankly don't care. To back up this mind-set, most protestants have experienced loving, close relationships with their protestant parents and know them to be strong Christians who have a relationship with Christ. Why would a Protestant even consider "another" religion when they "know" that theirs is the "right" one? Nobody wants to hurt their parents by abandoning the family religion...especially when they have seen that religion lived out in an honorable way.


Most Catholics believe in following the Bible AND tradition. They have found Jesus through both, and believe whole-heartedly that because they have found Peace and "Salvation" (buzz word for Catholics) through practicing age-old traditions AND reading the Bible, they have no reason to abandon either. To back up this belief, most Catholics have experienced loving, close relationships with their parents and know them to be strong Christians. Why would a Catholic even consider "another" way to worship when they "know" that theirs is the "right" one? Nobody wants to hurt their parents by abandoning the family religion...especially when they have seen that religion lived out in an honorable way.


Protestant Understanding: The term for believing in the "Bible Only" to find Salvation is "Sola Scriptura." Protestants quote Mark 7:13 to denounce the use of Historical Tradition as another way to serve Christ. In Mark 7:13 we can read what Jesus says to the Pharisees. "They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.' 8You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men."

That sound like a dire warning agains tradition doesn't it? Many protestants are worried about the teachings of the Catholic church because Catholics hold tradition to a high standard. Protestants have read Mark 7:13 and deduced that tradition is something to be avoided at all costs. Protestants don't want to touch tradition with a 10 foot pole because they don't want to worship in vain. Protestants think about the "rituals" (buzz word for protestants) that they have seen the Catholic church "do" (another buzz word) and they turn from the religion like it's Satan himself standing at the door.

On the other hand...

Catholics have also read Mark 7:13. They see that verse...and the verses that come before it. Here is the passage in it's entirety...


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Mark 7

Traditions and Commandments

1 Now when the Pharisees gathered to him, with some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem, 2 they saw that some of his disciples ate with hands that were defiled, that is, unwashed. 3 (For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they wash their hands, holding to the tradition of the elders, 4 and when they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they wash. And there are many other traditions that they observe, such as the washing of cups and pots and copper vessels and dining couches.) 5 And the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, "Why do your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?" 6 And he said to them, "Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; 7 in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.' 8 You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men." 9 And he said to them, "You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition! 10 For Moses said, 'Honor your father and your mother'; and, 'Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.' 11 But you say, 'If a man tells his father or his mother, "Whatever you would have gained from me is Corban"' (that is, given to God) — 12 then you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or mother, 13 thus making void the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And many such things you do.

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CATHOLIC UNDERSTANDING: Catholics see that Jesus is telling the Pharisees not to "replace" what the Bible teaches with traditions. They see that Jesus isn't against holding to traditions that enforce Biblical teachings. Catholic's keep the teachings and traditions that were handed down long ago, that are in keeping with Biblical teachings and throw away the Traditions that contradict those teachings.


In summary:

Protestants are concerned that Jesus was speaking against all traditions so they won't practice any for fear of offending Jesus. (Except: Weddings, Baptism, Communion, Bowing at the altar...some also hold to traditions of wearing dresses, not dancing, not wearing jewelry...etc.)


Catholics trust that Jesus was trying to reinforce the Biblical traditions and flush out those that were trying to infiltrate Christianity from paganism. Thus Catholics practice the Traditions that reinforce Biblical Truth.

5. FAITH ALONE:

Most Protestants believe that people are saved by Faith Alone. This is to say that all we have to "do" to be saved is believe in Christ, ask Him to forgive us (maybe get baptised) and we are set. All of that is considered "Faith Alone" even though there's a lot to "do" to be saved by Faith. A small sect of Protestants believe that once a person does this they are saved forever, no matter what. Most others believe that we have to live our lives for Christ and keep striving to do His will in order to "stay saved by Grace, through Faith Alone." Protestants read Ephesians 2:8 to proclaim this "Faith Alone" belief. Most Protestants say they were "saved" the day they prayed to Jesus for forgiveness. However, they do pray often for forgiveness "just in case." :o)

Catholics understand Ephesians 2:8 to mean that when a person has Faith that Jesus is the one and only true God, that they can then accept His teachings. They believe that when we accept His teachings and start living our lives for Him that we will ask for forgiveness, get Baptized and begin taking the Eucharist. (communion) It is at this time that people are considered to be Christians/Catholics...thus followers of Christ. They believe that God's gift of Salvation is Free to all people, just as Protestants believe, and they believe that all we have to do is accept it to be "saved."

It is "how a person accepts Christ" that really creates the difference in these two religions. Catholics believe that we are actually at the Last Supper, (we, as humans, are confined by time but God is not...He created time, thus transcends time) so when they take communion (the Eucharist) they are actually right there with the disciples, with Christ, eating and drinking Him (spiritually) in order to spiritually strengthen ourselves weekly/daily. They also believe in praying to Jesus for forgiveness both outside and inside the confessional. So when a Catholic gets "saved" they...Profess their belief in Christ Jesus as the one and only savior, confess their sins/ask for forgiveness for their sins, Pray the Holy Spirit leads their lives, and they agree to assume the role of a disciple...(live their lives to fulfill God's plan for their life/strive to have a relationship with Christ) and are Baptised at their Confirmation. (I haven't seen this first hand but this is my understanding to date. I "think" Baptised for Catholics is water over the head...not dunking.) (UPDATE: A Catholic friend of mine told me last night...after I posted this...on Facebook...that it's personal preference.  She and her family choose to be completely submerged because "it is more symbolic of the dying and rising with Christ.")

Essentially both religions believe that Jesus will inevitably be seen in the lives of Christians because of the works that we do in our lives. (the fruit of our beliefs will be seen) Ephesians 2:10 and James 2: 14-26 AND both religions believe we have to "do" some things to "get" saved but Protestants don't put much emphasis on "doing" things after the Baptism and Catholics emphasize the importance of taking communion and asking Jesus for salvation often.




6. COMMUNION/EUCHARIST:

Protestants believe that Catholics sacrifice Christ over and over every Sunday....just like Jewish people sacrificed lambs to God. They think that the Catholic Communion (Eucharist) is a making a mockery of the Sacrifice Jesus made for our sins. They quote Hebrews 10:12 to state that Christ died once and for all for our sins. This is why many Protestants don't take communion very seriously. It's "just something we do to remember what God did for us, but it's just a symbol."(Hebrews 10:12 "But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God.")

On the other hand, most protestants also believe that "communion should be taken seriously because if we do not "believe" then we can take communion and damn ourselves to hell" 1 Corinthians 11:29 Knowing this...I have to ask myself...is "it" God's body or is "it" juice and crackers? I do know one thing...God takes "it" very seriously....somehow I doubt "it" is "just" juice and crackers.


Catholics believe that the Eucharist (Communion) is Jesus body and blood. They believe that the bread and wine turn into Jesus "sacramentally." (Spiritually) They DON'T believe that if we take DNA or look under a microscope that the bread and wine has turned to "physical" Jesus, but they do believe that He IS that bread and wine spiritually.

They believe that all through the old testament God was getting us ready to be able to take the Eucharist (last supper) even after Christ left the earth. They believe that Jesus was "the bread of life" born in Bethlehem, which means "House of Bread" and that He was offered on a plate, (manger) for humans (sheep) throughout time to come to the alter to receive Him as spiritual nutrients. They believe that God transcends time....He lives outside the "box" of time and we live inside the "box" of time. (Thank you for this analogy Mr. Ray)

Catholics found this belief, in part, on Revelation 13:8 "All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast—all whose names have not been written in the book of life belonging to the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world."

Catholics believe God was NOT taken by surprise that we sinned against Him. They believe that Jesus' sacrifice was known "from the creation of the world." Catholics also believe that Jesus actually saw each and every one of us (you and me) when He said... Luke 22 "19 And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” 20 In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you."

When partaking of the Eucharist (Communion) every Sunday, Catholics believe we are actually transcending time...well, Christ is transcending time to come to us...that we can partake of the last supper in remembrance of Jesus until His return to earth. They are not "re-sacrificing" Him, they are accepting His one sacrifice and doing it until he comes back, just as He asked us to do.

To sum up: Catholics believe that Christ saw each and every person on earth when He took the sins of the world onto Him during his crucifixion and that He offers himself to us through communion, spiritually, to strengthen us...through time...until He comes again.

Now here's the "big" differences in Protestant/Catholic interpretations regarding Communion/Eucharist:

John 6: "47I tell you the truth, he who believes has everlasting life. 48I am the bread of life. 49Your forefathers ate the manna in the desert, yet they died. 50But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die. 51I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world." 52Then the Jews began to argue sharply among themselves, "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?" 53Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. 55For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. 56Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. 57Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. 58This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your forefathers ate manna and died, but he who feeds on this bread will live forever." 59He said this while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum. 60On hearing it, many of his disciples said, "This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?" 61Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, "Does this offend you? 62What if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before! 63The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life. 64Yet there are some of you who do not believe." "

Catholics believe that verse 63 is meant the same way John used it before in John 8:15. They believe that "the flesh" actually means "Use of our human mind." Meaning that we think in human mind and not spiritually. They believe that Jesus words are spiritual and His communion (Eucharist) is what allows us to "remain in 'Him' and 'He' in us" spiritually. (be saved) Basically we are to take the Eucharist because that is how He gives us strength spiritually but the people of that time were thinking only of the physical.

Protestants believe that Jesus wiped out ALL of His previous words when he said verse sixty-three. They believe that he was being metaphoric in the previous verses and that communion isn't all that important. (except Lutherans...but again... "Catholic-light") :o)



1 Corinthians 11 " 23For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 24and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, "This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me." 25In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me." 26For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.

To sum up:

Catholics believe that when Jesus said the word "is" that He meant "is"

Protestants believe that when Jesus said the word "is" that He meant "represents"

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Well, Those are my new understandings. This is really a fascinating journey as I've been learning more and more over the past few years. The ideas and thoughts from both sides of the isle have mesmerized me. I have found that I believe a lot of what my Catholic friends believe because, as it turns out, their religion isn't as "different" as I once thought it to be....though I still have questions!! LOL

I'm NOT saying our religions are the same, but I am saying they are more alike than I once realized.

I do enjoy learning about many Christian points of view and would appreciate thoughts from readers as well. If questions and understandings are presented in a gentle spirit, I would love to read them in the comment section. If they are presented in a mean spirit, they won't make the cut. (nuff said)

My next quest is to find the history of how people worshipped before the Protestant reformation/rebellion. If you have any links about church history "pre"...both Protestant and Catholic... I'd love to see them. :o)

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UPDATE: I have found that there are some Catholics who do believe that the Eucharist is Christ's actual, physical body.  Of course, as with any religion...especially one with a billion members...there will be LOTS of interpretations of the teachings of the Catholic Church. (questions 1353 and 1390)  I should have said...the Catechism states that the Eucharist is Sacramentally Jesus rather than assume all Catholics believe one particular way about what 'Sacramentally" means.

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MY PERSONAL HISTORY RECAP
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I was born and raised in a Christian home. I grew up attending evangelical Christian churches in the Bible Belt of America. (Part 1") Here is the post about my Evangelical upbringing AND First Catholic encounter...

My parents were, and still are, very faithful to Jesus, His teachings and living a Christian life. I am also rooted and grounded in Christ's Grace and Love. I gave my life to Christ by repenting of my sins to Jesus, was Baptized in the Ohio river when I was 12 years old, and baptized again, with my husband, during our second year of marriage. We were Baptized in the church Baptismal together...well, one after another...we weren't actually dunked at the same time. LOL


Brian and I have held fast to Jesus, allowing Him to guide our lives the best way we know how. But the one thing we have struggled with through our 20 years of marriage is finding a church where we feel at peace.


In our nearly 20 years of marriage, we've had to move quite a few times. We lived and worked where God led us. We met many people, attended many churches (all protestant) and really feel that God has placed us in the depths of His will.

After moving to Michigan...again...10 years ago...we began meeting many people of different faiths. We've met, Atheists, Agnostics, Buddhists, Humanists, Wicca and...Catholics. Now, some people wouldn't put Catholics under the "Different File" because Catholics are Christians, ie: Worship Christ. But, as you can see by my previous "Evangelical" post...and (Part 2) subsequent post....they are considered very "different" by many Protestants.


I used to be amazed that anyone could possibly be Catholic and have a brain in their head. (I know...but it's the truth) I felt that Catholic people were easily led and not really bright enough to think on their own or they would surely be Protestant. This belief was largely based on my "knowledge" that they worship Mary, don't pray to Christ, talk to dead people, see Mary in pieces of toast and think a Priest can get them to Heaven by forgiving their sins. Just LOOK at the Total and Complete ignorance! Little did I know that the ignorance, was on my part.

Now that I have met PRACTICING Catholics, I am no longer able to deny that they have Christ as the center of their lives. I can no longer pretend that they go to Church on Sunday and live like heathens during the week. Yes, that is how I thought a Catholic lived their life, because that is what I witnessed of "Catholics" on television and in my real life growing up in the Bible Belt of America.

I now have very dear, close, friends who share their lives with me openly. I see their daily struggles, the way they teach their children diligently about how to have a personal relationship with Christ Jesus...I see it all. Their lives are held up for my scrutiny....for whatever reason...and they are unashamed to do so.

I am baffled by their openness to my questions, their ability to refrain from "sanitizing" their lives for my benefit. They haven't tried to live holier, speak more holy or put on heirs of family bliss to encourage my love of their religion. They just live life as they always have and allow me to see everything...the good, the bad and the ugly.

In the two years that I've been hounding them for answers, not one has openly tried to convert me to their religion. When I ask questions, I get answers or an occasional book to read...then we're back to talking about our children and/or laughing about a common interest. Each Catholic family I meet is different, yet loving, faithful and open to whatever intrusive questions I throw their way.

After much inner reflection and much prayer, it has become painfully apparent that I was prejudiced against them. I weighed Catholics unfairly in my mind, just as a non-Christian weighs all Christians against the fallen televangelists and crazies screaming on the sidewalks of a dirty city block. The picture of a Catholic that resonated in my mind is very different from the reality of a true, practicing, Catholic person/family.

I don't feel too bad about this predicament though, because I've come to find out that my friends have held many of the same prejudices against Protestants. :o) Even though this is the case, we've not had heated, knock-down, drag-out debates about theology. Why? Because, when all is said and done, we believe that we're all going to Heaven, so what's the big deal? LOL

It is within this dynamic that we've all been able to openly discuss our religious practices without fear and trembling. We just soak up the new information, that streams to and fro, like a dry sponge breathes in water. It's actually been fascinating to discuss our points of view and share the "other" Christian experience.

I've tried to touch on all of the topics of discussion that I've had with my Catholic friends since my last post(s). I should note that there are times when my questions are confusing for my friends, because Protestants and Catholics use different "words" to say the same things at times. I do try to "translate" as I go along. I hope it helped. :o)



UPDATE: POST NUMBER 1: EVANGELICAL ME AND MY CATHOLIC FRIENDS

UPDATE: POST NUMBER 2: THE WHOLE CONFESSING TO A PRIEST THING

UPDATE: POST #3: WHAT DO CATHOLICS BELIEVE?

UPDATE: POST #4: DO CATHOLICS PRAY TO DEAD SAINTS?

UPDATE: POST #5: THE WHOLE RELIGION THING

1 comment:

Debbie said...

Here are some writings from the early church by those who were taught by the Apostles:

http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/text/justinmartyr-firstapology.html